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Great Canadian Ghost Stories, and Where to Find Them

21 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Book launch on Oct 23, 7pm at Bolen Books
1644 Hillside Ave #111, Victoria, BC

Fans of supernatural lore can easily find a wide selection of Barbara Smith’s books collecting ghost stories in many a public library. Each of them focuses on a specific region and as she wrote in her latest work, Great Canadian Ghost Stories from Coast to Coast, “Please know that all my books of ghost stories, including this one, have been written to entertain and inform, not to change anyone’s belief systems.”

From Labrador to Vancouver Island, this work does a great job at offering the best-known tales to read before bed. I found The Isle of Demons from way out East particularly sad — a newlywed family was left to fend for themselves there, but its reputation got the better of sailors when they needed help — and for Victoria, British Columbia, my home, to decide on which story is best to spotlight must have been tough. Two are offered: the shade at Beacon Hill Park (too common of an entry in many works for my taste). I had an experience at Hatley Castle, and that’s my number one choice. Understandably, the administration wants to play that down, but the stories and what I heard says it all.

Another I’m trying to encounter is the Time Slip on Shelbourne street. I drove through this path many an October night for the past several years. The thought of this path becoming country is theoretically an illusion because when tired, the autumn foliage can trick the mind. I have a slip of paper in a plastic mylar bag to drop to test the theory of, “If you find this note, please find me in the years of 1978 and onwards.” My interest in the paranormal started in that decade.

This superlative collection covers favourites like The Dungarvon Whooper, The Ghosts of Fort George and The Banff Springs Hotel. I’m still looking for mention of the Sooke Staircase and feel this piece of folklore is overlooked! Another entry to note about my home province is that no, the doll Mandy did not inspire the Nicolas Cage movie of the same name. The movie took place in the Shadow Mountains of California, and it has its own demons for visitors to deal with.

I particularly enjoyed how this work represents the Great White North as a whole. The folklore from Nunavut is most likely still being pieced together. When considering how widespread and isolated citizens are, I firmly believe we have a lot of cabins in the woods scenarios. To find one that’s not akin to Evil Dead will be difficult.

The content offered in this collection is reading time well spent. Smith’s prose is easy to follow. Although I know more than half the stories already, they are worth revisiting when the mood strikes. She’s been writing these books since 1993, and her experience shows. She tells these tales as though she’s passing knowledge from one generation to another so that certain aspects of Canada’s past are not forgotten. The loss of lives at sea will always be hard-hitting. Mariner tales, especially “Mysterious Rescue,” early in this book sets the tone. Sometimes, those “Ghostly Footsteps” are just that; the dead has no interaction with the living, but are fleeting memories so we can at least acknowledge their presence. The entry on “Historical Hamilton House” hits all the right notes not only about the rise of Spiritualism in Canada and why many took to it, but also explains the Ackroyd connection. This family’s interest spanned generations and the comedian took ideas to pen the comedy classic Ghostbusters.

Barbara Smith’s books are often found in bookstores when the Halloween season arises. This latest work updates a few details. There’s no denying we all love a good ghost story by the campfire, but when we want to go find answers, that’s a different kettle of fish. My advice: just do not try (not many books stand out) and simply enjoy discovering Canada’s past from a supernatural angle. I feel that’s this book’s purpose, as I would love to ride those haunted railways once again.

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Ad Nauseam, Newsprint Nightmares from the 80’s, A Book Review

13 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Author Michael Gingold admits to not being much of a horror fan back in 1979. He dabbled with a few films prior but after watching Halloween (god bless his grandparents, so he wrote), that film has changed his life. Anyone who knows this maestro will recognize his contributions to many a publication. From Fangoria to Rue Morgue (and back again), his contributions are well known. Enter Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s, a book which took more than a decade to make.

It collects nearly all the movie ads of horror films from this era. Flipping through this coffee table book is a conversation starter, especially amongst fans nostalgic for 80s horror movies. This book arrives just in time to before the next installment of Halloween arrives in theatres! Capsule reviews are included to remind readers of what critics back then thought of many a work.
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From Script to Book, Trollhunters! an Ongoing Saga

21 Jul

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Writer Richard A Hamilton can very easily further any fan’s love for DreamWorks Trollhunters. His work in the ongoing book series published by Simon Spotlight expands the world in legendary ways such that readers get to learn more about the history of Trollkind. As the wait for the next chapter in the Tales of Arcadia saga continues and this dedicated fan needs troll food badly, I am glad more tales are being told through the comic book/print medium.

The first graphic novel, “The Felled” is due to hit shelves in mid-October. Here, Hamilton explores the problems of being “boyfriend” material. Ever since Jim and Claire made it official, trying to make their relationship is not going to be easy, and Trollkind’s idea of courtship may well get examined. The history of Trollkind and their mating rituals may well be at the core of this first work. This chapter of the saga is illustrated by Timothy Green II.

In the written front, Four books are available to purchase (with more coming) and I knew I did not want to jump in with book three upon finding them at my local bookstore. The first volume is simply a retelling of “Becoming.” The scenes cut out are restored. The prologue centers in on Kanjigar. He knows his time is up and a new hero is needed. This Trollhunter prior to Jim Lake Jr. was well respected in Troll Market and for him to say his farewells is not without some sniffles. I feel the Knights of the Round Table will one day appear because this take of the Trollhunters saga reflects even more chivalric ideals.

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Why Bury The Anubis Tapestry? A Book Review & What Could Have Been …

13 Jul

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

No reasons were fully revealed about why the cinematic adaptation of The Anubis Tapestry by Illumination Entertainment was removed from schedule. I had to seek out the book and wonder what was I missing? It’s doubtful that the story was untranslatable to screen. Author Bruce Zick is no stranger to the industry. He worked on the development of successful films like Prince of Egypt, Hercules and Wall*E. The project seemed like it was in perfect hands since the tale had all the elements required for a fun-filled adventure!

The story about a young boy wishing to be closer to his dad is good. When Chance Henry is left to his own devices to entertain himself, it’s not so much about the gang he hangs out with, but rather the distance growing between father and son. Mother died a while ago and when pops is often preoccupied with work, there’s no time for the two to bond. The senior is the curator for the Portland Museum of Eastern Antiquities. When two new mummies arrived for him to get ready for display, neither would realize Egyptian curses are real!

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